How did you like our little brush with summer monsoon-like weather the past few days? Well, today is back to normal — in other words, beautiful, and a perfect day for an all-roses celebration.

Having dispensed with the obligatory weather observation, let’s get right to the fun:

The first bouquet goes to — no big surprise here — decision-makers at the Santa Barbara Foundation, who last week awarded nearly $900,000 to 22 agencies that provide safety-net services and programs for low-income folks.

We say “no big surprise here” because the foundation has been doing this for the better part of 90 years.

A casual traveler seeing only the happy face of Santa Barbara County might wonder why a philanthropic group would have to give money to agencies to help the poor. Those of us living here, however, understand that the facade hides some real, serious poverty and hunger.

The grants are $50,000 each, and recipients are decided by a special community panel after reviewing funding requests.

Among the recipients are Child Abuse Listening Mediation, better known as CALM; the Family Services Agency; Foodbank of Santa Barbara County; People’s Self-Help Housing; People Helping People of Santa Ynez Valley — most of whom have already appeared here as rose winners.

Bravo and roses to the Santa Barbara Foundation for its involvement in addressing human misery.

***

We need to give problem-solvers in the city of Solvang a pat on the back and a handful of roses for being awarded a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting by an international organization.

Actually, the fiscal managers in Solvang are accustomed to such excellence — this latest certificate is the city’s 24th such award in the past 25 years.

There’s really nothing quite like practice, which can — and in Solvang’s case does — produce terrific results.

What makes this award especially significant is that it reveals a degree of government transparency that could, and should be a model for government at all levels.

Elected and appointed leaders need to be reminded that government is doing the public’s business, and taxpayers are footing the bills, so the public has the right to know what government leaders are doing, and why. It’s not a complicated concept, really.

***

A trainload of roses to Central Coast communities that participated in last week’s National Night Out events.

National Night Out occurs every year on the first Tuesday in August, and one of its primary objectives is to help citizens get better acquainted with local law enforcement agencies.

Santa Maria has been celebrating National Night Out for the past five years, with the Santa Maria Police Department, the city’s Recreation and Parks Department and People for Leisure and Youth Inc. teaming up to run the show at Veterans’ Memorial Community Center.

It's a collaborative effort between public safety officials and the citizens they are sworn to protect day in and day out. Residents, for their part, are encouraged to take advantage of available resources those agencies have to contribute to a safer community.

Never has the National Night Out event been more important, as communities across the nation are torn apart by civil unrest. It often seems as though it’s an us-against-them situation regarding relations between citizens and the police officers sworn to protect them.

One way to end such separatism is for citizens to interact directly and non-confrontationally with police officers, coming away with a better understanding of the notion that we’re all in this together.

Think roses all around. 

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